Updated November 2023
Red Rock Canyon is one of the BEST elopement destinations in the Southwest!
You've got stunning views, endless photography opportunities, and plenty of adventurous activities all located just 30 minutes away from the world-class food, entertainment, and hotels at the heart of Las Vegas.
If you're reading this blog, chances are high that you already tried to figure out how to elope in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on your own and grew frustrated. Frankly, this is a rite of passage for those getting married here. Rest assured it IS possible and I've helped couples navigate this before! Keep reading to get all the details.
How do we get to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area?
Drive! Public transportation does NOT extend to Red Rock Canyon from Las Vegas. Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber will drop people off here, but be warned: there is not reliable cell service or wifi here, so calling a car to get back will be tough. Make your travel plans ahead of time. You can find specific driving directions here.
If you're visiting between October 1-May 31 you need to purchase a timed entry ticket in advance. Don't wait to do this until you're sitting in the entrance line... no cell service! You can buy them online at recreation.gov.
Drive times from common starting points:
- Las Vegas Strip and Harry Reid Airport (LAS): 30 minutes
- Lost Angeles: 4 hour drive
- San Diego: 5 hour drive
- Reno: 7 hour drive
- Phoenix: 5 hour drive
- Death Valley National Park: 2 hour drive
An alternative way to access Red Rock Canyon is by air! This is a really unique way to see the landscape from a different vantage point. There are private companies that offer tours like this one (complete with a champagne toast) to make your day unforgettable. Perfect for couples who want to take their elopement to the next level.
What time of year is best for a Red Rock Canyon elopement?
October-May is the ideal time of year to elope at Red Rock Canyon. Generally the highs range from the mid-50's to the mid-80's from autumn through spring. The fall months are beautiful, full of mild temperatures and clear days (usually). It can get chilly in the winter, especially if you hike to higher elevations. The spring is a lovely time to visit because it's wildflower season! May can go either way - you might have mild temperatures or you might get some scorchers.
Very hot temperatures (regularly exceeding 100 degrees F) usually happen here from June-September. It's not just uncomfortable, it's dangerous! For the safety of yourself and any guests you might have, I strongly recommend sunrise ceremonies if you want elope in the warmer months.
Monsoon season poses an additional risk in the summer/fall. Flash floods can happen in this timeframe. Of course, these are general ranges and Mother Nature is going to do as she pleases no matter what this blog says. As we do for any outdoor adventure elopement, we keep a close eye on the forecast and adjust our plans as needed. Getting married outdoors inherently comes with some risk. The key is a willingness to adjust and go with the flow.
How do we make it legal?
To get legally married in Red Rock Canyon you need to follow these steps laid out on Clark County's website.
Apply for your marriage license online, pick up your marriage license together in person at the Clark County Marriage License Bureau, get married with an Officiant and a witness (fun fact: I can act as your witness!), then have your officiant file your marriage certificate within 10 calendar days.
Where should we elope in Red Rock Canyon?
Red Rock Canyon NCA is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (a federal agency). They require couples to select their ceremony spot from a list of 3 locations:
- Red Spring Boardwalk Platform in Calico Basin
- Ash Spring Overlook in Calico Basin
- Red Rock Canyon Overlook on State Route 159
- (Eventually the Visitor Center Amphitheater will become a fourth option!)
Aside from your ceremony we can take portraits in other locations beyond these three options.
How many guests can we have at our ceremony?
Even with a wedding permit, you do not have exclusive use of any area in Red Rock Canyon. Picnic areas, trails and other facilities are open to the public.
The maximum number of people at the wedding depends on the site: Amphitheater = 200; Red Rock Overlook = 50; Ash Spring foundation in Calico Basin = 12; Red Spring Platform = 50. There are limits to the number of vehicles per location as well.
These numbers along with dates and hours these spots are available throughout the year can be found here.
Do we need a permit to get married here?
YES! All weddings at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area require an approved Special Recreation Permit. The BLM permitting process requires TIME! According to their website, say they may take up to 180 days (roughly 6 months) to complete the process. So if you're in a rush to get married, Red Rock Canyon might not be the spot for you.
So how much will it cost? Their website says: "Fees for wedding permits depend on if you use an existing permitted company, have any paid photography, officiant, or other paid services for the wedding, or if you have unpaid or reimbursed services."
I know this is such a wishy-washy answer but it really does depend on the specifics of your wedding. Be prepared to pay between $115-$600 for your permit. When all is said and done, this is still so much cheaper than a traditional wedding venue and you're getting an amazing backdrop for your nuptials.
But HOW do you actually start the process? Contact the Sloan Canyon Field Office (which handles Red Rock Canyon permits) and tell them you wish to obtain a permit to get married. The local BLM office will supply you with an application, checklist and local procedures. Find the most current contact information for the Sloan Canyon Field office under the "Nevada" drop down menu here.
Can we have a reception at Red Rock Canyon?
Yes! You'll be adhering to group size limits and parking space limits no matter where you go, but you can certainly enjoy a post-ceremony celebration in Red Rock Canyon. This is ideal for those who want something casual and don't mind bringing in (and then packing out) their own food, drinks, and decorations. The picnic areas are not always the cleanest so I recommend bringing some kind of tablecloth and even bench coverings to protect your clothing. Some picnic tables might be weathered wood (AKA splinters that snag on clothes!).
Please enjoy responsibly! Remember that your guests have no option but to drive away afterward.
As previously mentioned, permit holders don't have exclusive use of any areas, including picnic tables. If members of the public are enjoying the area you must coexist and share the space.
Ultimately, if you have a high guest count, if you don't want to worry about the weather, or if you want a more polished setting with prepared food and drinks, I recommend choosing a private venue outside of Red Rock Canyon to accommodate everyone and guarantee a smooth experience.
What activities can we do on our wedding day?
Whether you want a relaxed day or a highly active day, Red Rock Canyon can give you exactly what you want. Some things you can do include:
- Hiking - There are so many options! Whatever your ability level, there is a hike for you.
- Drive the Scenic Loop and stop along the way to take in all the variety of Red Rock Canyon. This is a must!
- Check out the petroglyph wall to see ancient rock art
- Rock climbing - this is a prime climbing destination, attracting pros from around the world
- Fly over Red Rock Canyon in a helicopter
- Biking - on your own or with a tour
- Learning through exhibits in and around the visitor center
Where should we stay?
Two words: LAS. VEGAS. Since Red Rock Canyon is just 30 minutes away from The Strip, you have ENDLESS options for lodging.
If you want to splurge on a luxurious experience, go for a well-known luxe option on The Strip like Wynn or Aria. If you want something closer to downtown old-school Vegas near Fremont Street, check out Circa or the Downtown Grand Hotel and Casino. There are options for every taste and every budget!